2017 / Sally Kidwell
Review by Kathy Parsons
Sweet Serenity is the fourth album from pianist/composer Sally Kidwell, but is the first one I’ve heard - a situation I plan to remedy very soon! I saw Ms Kidwell perform at a Whisperings Awards Concert a couple of years ago and was very impressed with her graceful style of playing, but this album has really hooked me! Sweet Serenity was recorded at Greg Maroney’s new Harmony Grove Studio on his superlative Steinway D concert grand, and the sound quality of the piano is warm, rich and soothing. Kidwell has been performing publicly since she was 7 and earned a Piano Performance degree at Southern Methodist University. She began composing music for stress reduction and relaxation in 2008. Each of the eleven pieces on the album tells a story or describes a feeling and it is no surprise that Kidwell’s music has been compared to Felix Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words. Her classical roots and training are apparent, but Kidwell’s beautiful music is fresh and very expressively played.
The album begins with the title track, a light and gentle caress of a piece that surrounds you with a comforting velvety warmth while setting the tone of the album. Rolling minor chords on the left hand create a darker setting for “Nocturne.” The haunting, heartfelt melody poignantly touches the soul - a favorite. “Suki’s Song” also has a somewhat haunting quality, but is more dramatic. “Circles” is another favorite. Played mostly on the upper half of the piano, there is a suggestion of innocence even though the mood is very mysterious. The melody of “Last Kiss” is played in the bass of the piano, effectively enhancing the sadness of the piece. Although Kidwell’s playing is elegant with a soft touch, the emotions expressed are very powerful. “Day Dreams” goes in the opposite direction, lightening the tonal colors to soft pastels and the feeling to deep contentment. My favorite piece on the album is “Luna Oscura (Dark Moon),” a very dark piece, indeed, and one that makes my fingers itch to play it! Although parts of the piece are kind of spooky, they aren’t threatening. It is more of a compelling and mysterious mood piece, and I love it! “Monet’s Garden” has a gentle flowing feel, much like the water in many of Monet’s paintings. The soft, rounded quality of Kidwell’s playing also suggests the pastel colors used by many of the Impressionist painters and gives a wonderful aural interpretation of Monet’s art and inspiration. “Going Home” brings this excellent album to a quiet, reflective close.
I just added Sally Kidwell’s name to the list of artists whose work I need to explore! Very likely to be on my list of Favorites for 2017, I highly recommend Sweet Serenity! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
August 8, 2017